Ticket must be Served within 30 days to be Valid – State v. Buczkowski

This morning’s Appellate Division holding in State v. Buczkowski may bring about certain fundamental changes in current municipal court practice. In Buczkowski, the Appellate Division held that the general statute of limitations for motor vehicle offenses under N.J.S.A. 39:5-3(a) requires that service of process (invariably a summons) upon the defendant must occur within the limitation period provided under the law, which for most traffic offenses is 30 days. In the Buczkowski case, the police issued and filed with the court a reckless driving complaint against the defendant on the 30th day following the commission of the offense. However, the police never served the summons and complaint on the defendant. Rather, they waited 142 days and then mailed process to her. The Appellate Division, in deciding the case, affirmed a dismissal of the charge from the Law Division as being outside the statute of limitations since process was not served on the defendant within 30-days from the date of the offense. The holding in this case will now require that a summons and complaint charging a traffic complaint be both filed with the court and served upon the defendant within the applicable statutory period under N.J.S.A. 39:5-3.

Download a copy of State v. Buczkowski.

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